British man asked to come forward ahead of European Judo Championships

The next generation of British men’s judoka will have the chance to turn the tide of history at this month’s European Championships.

Team GB hasn’t won an Olympic medal in men’s judo since Ray Stevens won silver in Barcelona in 1992 – five different women have since taken the podium.

In recent years, three-time Olympian Ashley McKenzie has raised the flag as he aims to add two more European medals in Sofia from April 29.

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Five newcomers will take part in the Bulgarian tatami, and the sport’s managers have clearly captured the urgency of their top male talent to start producing merchandise.

“We have given careful consideration to selecting a competitive team and support our desire to develop and medal the men’s and women’s teams at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games,” said performance director Nigel Donoghue ( Nigel Donohue) said.

“Our selected women’s team has had great success in the last cycle, consistently finishing and medals in Grand Slams and climbing the world rankings.

“For this reason, the expectation is that some of the squad will be awarded medals in Sofia.

“At the same time, it is important that we continue to develop our men’s programme – the selection of our European Championships men’s team reflects a team in transition as we move towards Paris 2024.

“All of them have won medals or entered the international level and deserve their choice.

“We are realistic about where our men are currently performing, but we firmly believe that our men’s team will be competitive in Sofia and it would not be surprising to see any of our men in these tournaments.

“As we progress through this cycle to Paris 2024 and towards Los Angeles 2028, we want to see the men’s team mirror the success of our women’s team.”

Olympic funding for British judo has been slashed by more than £1m at the Paris cycling race.

A key goal is to secure a place for England in the mixed team event that made its debut last summer. In Tokyo, countries need to have at least 3 male and female competitors in equal weight classes to qualify for the team competition.

Mackenzie is the only male judo player to represent the UK at the Nippon Budokan.

Among the debutants, super flyweight Sam Hall won gold at the Zagreb Grand Prix last September and has high hopes for European junior bronze medalist Daniel Powell in the -73kg category.

Stuart McWatt, who finished seventh at the 2019 European Games, is back in the England squad after an injury limited his qualification to Tokyo.

The women’s team was led by Olympic bronze medalists Chelsea Gilles and Lucy Renschel, who just won her fourth Grand Slam gold in 12 months in Antalya.

-57kg star Acelya Toprak is widely considered to be the next taxi, and her major debut revolves around her intrigue. She won the European Junior Silver Medal in 2017 and rounds off 2021 with a Gold Medal at the European Cup in Dubrovnik.

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